The internet is having a retro romance with “the world’s first cassette player with Bluetooth 5.0 capability.” Dubbed “IT’S OK,” the fresh take on the classic tech has already exponentially surpassed its $12,826 Kickstarter goal, with over 500 backers pledging more than $48,000 to Hong Kong-based NINM Lab‘s project as of this writing.
The crowdfunding campaign launch coincides with the original Sony Walkman’s 40th birthday on July 1, 1979. (In celebration of the four-decade anniversary, Sony also has a retrospective exhibit on display in Tokyo.)
Despite the nostalgic appeal of the product, NINM’s branding is clearly aimed at younger buyers who may not have lived through the cassette’s original heyday. The short-film-like, two-minute Kickstarter video for IT’S OK features a young person in overalls and a baseball cap listening to vaporwave on their IT’S OK in a filtered, halcyon present.
“Only music can heal me,” reads the screen in the ad, before showing the product.
Yes, it’s a portable tape cassette player, but the IT’S OK also features a headphone jack and speaker, in addition to the Bluetooth tech. It runs on AA batteries, has a transparent case design, open handle and comes in three colors: white, light pink and a dark, slate blue evocative of the original Walkman.
Production on IT’S OKs is set to be completed in November, and the product — retailing at $75 for those who buy as part of the “Kickstarter special” — is set to ship in December. It comes with a blank tape.
“Unlike the convenience of smartphone technology, a box of cassette tapes has time limitations,” reads the Kickstarter. “Because of this, only the most significant and meaningful dialogue is recorded. As a physical object, this box can be held on hands and passed to people of value, which teaches us how to treasure.”
In addition to the anniversary, the launch also comes amidst an ’80s product nostalgia craze fueled in large part by hit show “Stranger Things’” branding madness.
A report by BuzzAngle Music in January found that cassette sales were up by almost 19% in 2018.
In 2016, Time named the Sony Walkman among the top 5 most influential gadgets of all time.